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 I was at one of the lowest  times of my life . Alone, sick from pneumonia and still in intensive care in the hospital when I got a phone call that my mother, who had been doing very poorly for a time, had just passed away.

A snowstorm was icing the street outside, ambulances arriving with accident victims pouring into emergency, and I had told my family to stay home that night to be safe. I felt about as alone as a person could feel. Hospital nurses were so kind, but the huge demands on their time did not allow long talks and I needed a friend; when they offered to call the hospital chaplain for me I said yes.

The Chaplain. So a knock on the door and a presence filled the room, bigger than life. A blinding white smile, and a warm hello Ms. Patricia. He walked right up to me and took my hands in his and introduced himself as Chaplain Chris. He asked what I needed and I told him I needed to pray with someone for and about my mother’s passing. Chris asked me if I was of a faith, and when I told him Christian he asked Catholic? No, non denominational, and respecting of all good people of their faiths. Chris said his order too was non denominational. We sat down and prayed, taking turns, and it was a good thing. Next we spoke of some personal, unresolved issues between myself and my mother, and he made it easy to speak freely. He had responses that were helpful to me, mostly about love.
Then Chris asked me if I knew of the book of Job of the Bible. He said his own story had many parallels to the Biblical story and began to tell it.
When he was just beyond his teens Chris left Africa for Maryland to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. He had worked hard and managed to come up with $60,000 to pay the for the flight school, arranged to move  in with a cousin and flew here to the US. The day he was to start the school closed doors. All of those who had paid for tuition were left without. No refunds were ever made. The poor young man was devastated. The money was more than anyone in his poor area had ever had or spent and it was gone. Legal recourse was sought by all, for nothing.
After that Chris had nothing to do. His cousin was pressuring him to take up with her girlfriend, to marry her, but Chris was engaged to a girl in Africa and was trying to stay true, tho he liked his cousin’s friend. That pressure increased and led to a big fight; the cousin told Chris in disgust she wasn’t driving him anywhere anymore,  even to church.
So he was wandering around, depressed and came to a church by a field. He went in to a service then met the Pastor and asked if he could stay and pray by himself after. The Pastor agreed and showed him a room. Chris went in and poured his heart out. He wailed, wept, asked why, asked the Lord for help. In Africa the buildings were all made off concrete block, mostly sound proof. Here they were wood and dry wall. The Pastor had heard his loud crying prayers clearly, and he was very taken by the Chris’s honest and open approach to God. He told Chris he loved how he prayed, and asked him to pray with his congregation. Chris became a regular at the church. He was shocked tho when the pastor and elders called him to a meeting and offered to pay his way through seminary school. A full scholarship.

It was a best case scenario, and Chris took the schooling. It also got him away from his cousin and the girl he liked a bit too much and had been seeing too much of- he left town suddenly but was ashamed of his actions. Chris went through the school but sort of thought now what? He really wasn’t that sure he wanted to be a Pastor. He was sure he wanted to be a pilot.  But he returned to the church, joined the congregation and worked there for a while. Then he had a dream or vision of a bunch of Pastors in a group. They were telling him, come to North Carolina, we want you here. He had the dream several times before he told his church leader. The elders got together and discussed it, and decided he did have to go there. God was calling him. About that time another cousin he thought was in Texas got in touch. He said, Chris my wife and I want to buy a house, but we don’t have enough money. Can you help? Chris did, the cousin bought a house in North Carolina and asked Chris to move in too. So he went there next and began to seek a church that needed him. About that time he was led to a church that wanted him to start a new branch, he was led too by his pilot craving again. As he halfheartedly began working on establishing a new church he also enrolled in flight school for some air training. He loved it so much. Chris worked hard at the church, and did very well. But he still did not feel that was what he wanted.

During his first air training flight Chris was assigned to an instructor he did not like too much, but up they went, each working a separate part of the controls. Chris got the plane up and the pilot took over as they were heading down. The controls froze. The pilot tried everything he could, but the plane was not recovering. He told Chris to brace for a crash and Chris was terrified. He began yelling to God- you want me to be a Pastor I will! I will stop fighting you Lord I will do anything just save us! And the plane recovered, the pilot brought it down. Ashamed, Chris went to the head of the flight school. He told the man that he either wanted to never go up with that trainer again or he wanted his money back. He was denied both. He went back to the church. Meanwhile, the church elders had decided to send Chris and another young church leader back to Divinity school, offering him a full scholarship to get his masters degree. And so he did, while working at the church.
Now Chris had a masters, and career choices were opening up to him. He should have been content, but just was not. He was also mad at himself for his pilot dream and tried to ignore it. Then he had another dream, of a group of Pastors calling him to come. He tried to ignore it, but it was there. He did not want to listen. But it turned out that his church had further plans for him, and wanted him to get his doctorate, with them sponsoring him. And he went with that, back to school.
The remainder or this story is not as clearly remembered, but the basics are as I heard from the man. Chris got his doctorate degree and was offered a leading position. He tried to get out of it. He side stepped and said other people were more worthy, and was just doing everything he could to avoid this role and committing to it. Secretly he enrolled in flight school again, and was very glad. He was also ashamed of himself again, could barely stand himself. The morning of his first flight session, he woke up in his house on fire! Everyone but Chris was out of the house, but Chris was trapped in a burning foyer by a door. He was being badly burned and screaming when he was rescued, and spent many months in the hospital after that. His face, hands, arms and feet, legs were all damaged, and recovery was very difficult. During this time he met a hospital chaplain who was wonderful to him and helped him through the agony so much. Chris slowly began to think he had found his own calling; ministering to the sick and fearful patients in the hospital and helping them and their families in their times of crisis. When he was almost healed, he had strongest and clearest vision of his lifetime and it changed his world forever.

In his dream/vision he was being called outside. He went out and saw a long pathway, and began to follow it. He looked at the other people on the path and saw that they were all shining white. Looking down t his own body, he saw that he too was shining white! Whiter than white, whiter than silver or white gold, but so beautiful and valuable as to beyond his imagination. He saw that all of the people were the same shining color, no matter their ethnic background.

All were walking toward a huge gleaming structure, like a soaring  cliff. It was perfectly flat fronted, with no openings, yet as people in the distance approached it they appeared to go inside. and when Chris got to the walls, he too saw an opening and went inside.

Inside he saw huge people- tall and shining white. they motioned to the small newcomers to join them in groups, and though no one was talking, Chris was unafraid to realize he was in heaven. It was all whiter than silver,radiant and too beautiful for him to even comprehend. All giving love, peacefulness and knowledge filled him and all those who were there.

(My own memory becomes even less clear on the rest of his story’s details. I had been listening for 45 minutes to his tale, and was sick. I was also very full of grief and weariness. My excuse, but there it is.)

Chris felt he was given a choice to stay in heaven, with the perfection of the tall beings and God, or to return and live his time on the earth. His choice was not easy, but he felt it was clear, that God had plans for his time on the mortal planes. So he returned.

Like Job Chris was tested over and over. When he followed his own will he was led back to the will of God, over and over. He was led to where he was supposed to be, and he showed me the bad burn scars on his arms like a blaze on his path. He became a Chaplain for the Hospital, and was much valued in the position. Chris had found his place.

His eyes were clear and warm as he looked at me at this story’s end. He told me that he was sure that my mother was with God. That she was with the spirit of her beloved husband again, even if she had her own doubts about God, heaven, religion. Chris told me he knew this because,” God loves us all so much! He just Loves us!”.

And Miss Patricia, he said, He loves you and He will help you with whatever issues you need help with. And I am sure of that.

I asked him then if I could tell his tale in my blog, and he said of course. Chris took my leave with a warm handshake, said goodnight and left.

I was as full of peace as I could be. I  felt that I had just been with an angel.

So this was a story I promised myself I would tell when I could; it took me a while because it was difficult to express. Some people are so filled with their faith, have so given themselves to their God that He just shines right back out of them. I was very fortunate to have met this man, and spend an hour I very desperately needed in the company of someone so kind, so full of faith and love.

What does this have to do with an art blog you may ask? well, if art comes from the artist, their life, inspirations, who they meet,and what they experience, then I have just shared a piece of where my art may come from.

By the way I made a good recovery, though I still miss my mother and always will.

Blessings to all.

Patricia

 

 

 

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